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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Fool's Errand, part of Robin Hobbs's Tawny Man series, takes place approximately 15 years after the events in the Farseer trilogy and continues chronicling the life of FitzChivalry Farseer, a heroic young boy introduced in Assassin's Apprentice. Fitz, as he is called, is the bastard son of Prince Chivalry and is treated as an outcast by the whole royal court -- everyone, that is, except King Shrewd, who has him secretly trained in the arts of the assassin. He is made even more invaluable to the king because of his Skill, a hereditary magical power that allows Fitz to telepathically communicate with other Farseers and spiritually bond with animals, among other things. As the series progresses, Fitz grows up and begins to come to grips with his incredible power -- and the responsibility that goes along with it.
Here we rediscover FitzChivalry Farseer as a much older man (though by the way he speaks, you would think he was ancient!). He's living with his bonded wolf, Nighteyes, and a young boy he is raising named Hap. They share an isolated life in a small cabin in the deep woods. Fitz now goes by the name of Tom Badgerlock and refuses to go back to the Buckkeep. He is, after all, supposed to be dead. Both Fitz and Nighteyes are aging, and Fitz is pretending to enjoy his life of inactivity. This contentedness is severely tested when he gets a visit from some old friends.
Fitz's old mentor Chade arrives first, showing signs of having the ability to Skill. The only other person known to have this ability is Fitz himself. Chade wants Fitz to return with him to Buckkeep and train the young Prince Dutiful in the art, but he adamantly refuses. Two more old friends visit Fitz, and the news is not good. The Witted, it seems, are being persecuted throughout the Six Duchies because of their bonds with animals. To complicate matters, Prince Dutiful -- soon to be married -- is missing. Fitz's assignment to get him back in time for the wedding ceremony seems like a fool's errand, but the hazards ahead could signal the end of the Six Duchies as he knows it.
FYI: Readers don't have to have read Hobb's Farseer novels before beginning this book (though, in all honesty, it does add to the experience). Hobb masterfully slips in the needed background information smoothly and concisely. Within the first few chapters, all readers should have a solid grasp on the realm of the Six Duchies, and on Fitz and his previous history.
Fool's Errand is one heck of a good read: it is fast-paced, there's a ton of action and adventure, and fans of Hobb's Farseer series will thoroughly enjoy getting to know Fitz again as an adult. (L.E.)